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Thursday, December 5, 2019

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The House released a 300-page impeachment report Tuesday detailing wrongdoing by President Trump when he asked the Ukrainian president to dig up dirt to smear former vice president Joe Biden, one of his chief rivals in the 2020 presidential election.

Mr. Trump has insisted that the entire story, based on his phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky, is a “hoax.” But multiple testimony by administration officials, including White House transcripts, prove that Trump did make such a request.


The House Intelligence Committee was scheduled to vote on its final impeachment report this week and to ask other investigative panels to submit the results of their own findings, including the results of the months-long probe by special counsel Robert Mueller.

“The President engaged in this course of conduct for the benefit of his own presidential reelection, to harm the election prospects of a political rival, and to influence our nation’s upcoming presidential election to his advantage,” the House report said.

Thus, the report continued, “The President placed his own personal and political interests above the national interests of the United States, sought to undermine the integrity of the U.S. presidential election process, and endangered U.S. national security.”

Donald Trump is the first President in the history of the United States to seek to completely obstruct an impeachment inquiry … He also directed all federal officials in the Executive Branch not to testify — even when compelled. No other President has flouted the Constitution and power of Congress to conduct oversight to this extent,” the report added.

While the Democrat-written report doesn’t list each and every charge in the articles of impeachment he could face, it signals that he will be accused of obstruction of Congress, noting that at least a dozen witnesses “followed President Trump’s orders, defying voluntary requests and lawful subpoenas, and refusing to testify.”

At the heart of Congress’ case are transcripts of the president’s phone conversation with Mr. Zelensky on July 25, in which Mr. Trump asks the Ukrainian president to launch a full blown investigation into Biden and his son Hunter, who was put on the board of a major energy company in Kyiv.

At stake for Mr. Zelensky is nearly $400 million in critically needed U.S. military aid to help Ukraine defend itself from Russian military aggression — assistance Mr. Trump had, for some suspicious reason, put on hold.

Transcripts of Mr. Trump’s phone call with Mr. Zelensky show that the Ukrainian president brought up the needed funds for his country’s survival.

Making the story murkier is Rudolph Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal attorney, who, records show, called the White House at least seven times on April 24.

“The records do not provide any details about the nature of the calls or whether Giuliani spoke with Trump,” The Washington Post reported on Wednesday. “On Twitter and in television that day, Giuliani promoted the debunked theory, embraced by the president, about alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election.”

Meantime, Mr. Trump continues to say he has done nothing wrong and continued to call the impeachment a “hoax” and a “witch hunt.”

“I think it’s a disgrace. I think the Democrats should be ashamed of themselves,” he said during a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in London at a NATO meeting.

But polls show that Americans remain deeply divided on whether Mr. Trump should be impeached.

A Washington Post “average of nationally representative polls conducted since the start of the public hearings on Nov. 13 found that the level of support for impeaching and removing Trump stood at 47 percent — little different from that 47 percent in the two weeks before the hearings began and 48 percent earlier in October.”

There is still a week or two more before the Democrat-controlled House is ready to bring articles of impeachment to a vote.

Meantime, the White House is focusing on the “trial” in the Republican-run Senate, where Mr. Trump’s impeachment still seems unlikely.

• Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and contributor to The Washington Times.


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